American film-maker Emilie Upczak is appealing to backers to support a Kickstarter campaign for her human smuggling drama.

Moving Parts takes a fictional look at a very real issue,” said Upczak. “The film’s protagonist Zhenzhen, is a Chinese immigrant who is smuggled into Trinidad to be with her brother Wei following the death of their father.

“A tragic event leaves Zhenzhen vulnerable and only through the help of a neighboring art gallerist, Evelyn, and the restaurant’s cook does she have a chance at life.”

The film has been in development for two years and is now in pre-production. Principal photography is set to begin in spring with a production schedule of one month.

Upczak, who until recently worked as creative director of the trinidad+tobago film festival, where she was in charge of the Caribbean Film Mart and Caribbean Film Database, is initially targeting $25,000 on Kickstarter.

She describes herself as a filmmaker and festival programmer specifically interested in ritual practice and sexual politics.

Upczak developed an interest in these areas after she spent two years travelling through southeast Asia, where she encountered numerous religious practices and worked as an escort in a hostess club in Tokyo.

“We decided to crowd-fund the film in order to build our core audience and to engage individuals in our fundraising process,” said Upczak. “We have been successful in engaging local government support and now we are turning to private sector and individuals.

“We are already seeing that there is an audience for this film. It is a relevant topic both regionally and internationally and the story utilises a fresh approach to a difficult subject.

“The film is unique in that it is told through the eyes of a female protagonist, not as a thriller, but rather a human drama, exposed from the inside out.”

One unique facet of Moving Parts is that women comprise most of the department heads. The roster includes DoP Nancy Schreiber, consulting producer Annabelle Mullen, first assistant director Roma Zachemba, co-producers Rhonda Chan Soo and Rhian Vialva, production designer Shannon Alonzo and PR/social media Aurora Herrera.

“I feel very strongly about having this film made by women and also by women primarily from the Caribbean,” she said.

The cast includes Canadian actresses Valerie Tian, known for her role as Su-Chin in Juno and Burns in 21 Jump Street, and Kandyse McClure, who played Officer Anastasia Dualla in Battlestar Galactica.

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